Christmas is behind us, but for outdoors enthusiasts it’s just starting. It’s SHOT Show time! SHOT stands for shooting, hunting and outdoor trade. The National Shooting Sports Foundation defines it this way.

“The Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) is the largest and most comprehensive trade show for all professionals involved with the shooting sports, hunting and law enforcement industries. It is the world’s premier exposition of combined firearms, ammunition, law enforcement, cutlery, outdoor apparel, optics and related products and services. The SHOT Show attracts buyers from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.”

I couldn’t have written a bitter description, but I have to add it’s like a sport show on steroids. It’s like a brown bear stuffed on salmon. It’s like the monster truck Bigfoot. It’s like … yes, it’s really big. Approximately 65,000 attend annually to see the latest in firearms, ammunition, hunting gear, law enforcement products and anything related to the firearm industry. This is the 40th anniversary of the monstrosity, but there is one catch: You can’t go.

Yep, grab a Kleenex. SHOT Show is closed to the general public. If you are an industry representative, vetted media, law enforcement or are there to order for your sporting goods outlet, you’ll have freedom to enter. Designated service members also visit the show to review new tactical gear.

Now that you’ve wiped your tears away and lifted your chin up, put a smile on. SHOT Show is when the majority of the industry release new and updated products to the public. In the coming weeks it will feel like Christmas if you enjoy comparing new firearms, ammunition, optics and hunting gear with what sits in your current inventory. Industry marketing representatives use this January launch as the starting point to propel sales throughout the year. Invited media review the latest products and you’ll quickly see steam building behind true innovations that emerge each year. Finally, your local sporting goods outlet attends the show and visit with company sales representatives to place orders for the year.

In addition to new products many companies coordinate to get celebrity hunting personalities onsite to meet the industry crowd. You’ll see the likes of Lee and Tiffany, Jim Shockey, Michael Waddell, Kyle Lamb and the Pigman. What used to be strictly a sales show has morphed into a Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Stars aside, you’ll soon know what is making headlines from the 2018 SHOT Show. What happens in Vegas doesn’t really stay in Vegas. Forums, websites (like Predator Xtreme) and the shelves of your favorite sporting goods store will showcase the best of the best.

So no crying over spilt milk … right? You maybe can’t get into SHOT Show, but you will experience it soon as the newest products escape the convention center to a media or sporting goods outlet near you.